- Round Table Conferences (India)
"This article is about the Anglo-Indian Round Table Conferences. For the Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference, see
Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference. For other uses of Round Table, see Round Table (disambiguation)."
The three Round Table Conferences of 1930–32 were organised by the British government following the
Simon Commissionmeeting so much resistance they did not even complete their report. Demands for swaraj, or self-rule, in India had been growing increasingly strong. By the 1930s, many British politicians believed that India needed to move towards dominion status. However, there were significant disagreements between the Indian and the British political parties that the Conferences would not resolve.
First Round Table Conference (November 1930 – January 1931)
The Round Table Conference was opened officially by King George V on Thursday,
November 13, 1930and chaired by the British Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald. The Indian National Congress, along with Indian business leaders, kept away from the conference. Many of them were in jail for their participation in civil disobedience.
However, the Conference was attended by Muslim leaders including Muhammad Ali, Muhammad Shafi, the
Aga Khan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Muhammad Zafrulla Khan; Hindu Mahasabha leaders including B. S. Moonjeand Jaylar; Liberals including Tej Bahadur Sapru, C. Y. Chintamaniand Srinivas Shashtri; and a large contingent of rulers of princely states.
The idea of an All-India Federation was moved to the centre of discussion. All the groups attending the conference supported this concept. The responsibility of the Executive to Legislature was discussed, and
B. R. Ambedkardemanded a separate electorate for the Untouchables.
econd Round Table Conference (September – December 1931)
There were three major differences between the first and second Round Table Conferences. By the second:
*"Congress Representation" — The
Gandhi-Irwin Pactopened the way for Congress participation in this conference. Gandhi attended as the sole official Congress representative. Gandhi claimed that the Congress alone represented political India; that the Untouchables were Hindus and should not be treated as a “minority”; and that there should be no separate electorates or special safeguards for Muslims or other minorities. These claims were rejected by the other Indian participants. According to this pact, Gandhi was asked to call off the Civil Disobedience Movement (CDM) and if he did so the prisoners of the British government would be freed excepting the criminal prisoners, i.e those who had killed British officials.
*"Financial Crisis" – During the conference, Britain went off the Gold Standard. Cabinet tied the rupee to sterling thus using India gold to stabilize Britain’s currency.Fact|date=February 2007 During the Conference, Gandhi could not reach agreement with the Muslims on Muslim representation and safeguards. At the end of the conference Ramsay MacDonald undertook to produce a
Communal Awardfor minority representation, with the provision that any free agreement between the parties could be substituted for his award.
Gandhi took particular exception to the treatment of untouchables as a minority separate from the rest of the Hindu community. He clashed with the Untouchable leader,
B. R. Ambedkar, over this issue: the two eventually resolved the situation with the Poona Pactof 1932.
Third Round Table Conference (November – December 1932)
From September 1931 until March 1933, under the supervision of
Samuel Hoare, the proposed reforms took the form reflected in the Government of India Act 1935.
Most of the main political figures of India were not present for this conference.
In this conference,
Chaudhary Rahmat Ali, a college student, coined the name PAKISTAN. Pakistan means the land of pure. He took the P from Punjab, the A from the Afghan, the KI from Kashmir, the S from Sindh and the TAN from Balochistan.In this Conference M.A.Jinnah was not present.
* [http://www.houseofdavid.ca/round_tab.htm Essay on Indian Constitutional Round Table Conferences, London 1931–1933]
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